Chapter no 69

The Teacher


I RECEIVE another phone call a few hours later from Detective Sprague, just before I am about to go to bed.

They have had no luck so far locating Eve, which isn’t terribly surprising. They have verified that she definitely never took the commuter rail, which also isn’t terribly surprising. All these roads are supposed to lead back to Addie.

“Also,” she adds, “I spoke with Adeline Severson.”

Addie. I wonder what she must have thought to herself when the police showed up at her door. I’m thankful she has no credibility. “Oh?”

“I definitely think she has something to do with your wife’s disappearance,” Sprague tells me. “I’m going to talk to her again tomorrow. And I’m trying to get in touch with the principal at your school.”

“Good,” I say.

Higgins will tell the detective all about what Addie did last year. Between that and the letter I saved, she will appear extremely unstable. When they do eventually exhume Eve’s corpse, all the evidence will lead to her. Her fingerprints are even all over Eve’s car.

I just have to do my best to distance myself from her. I’m fairly sure she did not tell anyone about the two of us. Eve was the only one who knew. And now I have deleted the Snapflash account that connected us.

I’m sorry, Addie. One of us has to take the fall for this, and it can’t be


“I’ll touch base with you tomorrow,” Detective Sprague promises me.

“I appreciate it,” I tell her, turning up the charm. I can’t outright flirt,

since that would be highly inappropriate, but the more she likes me, the less she will suspect me. “Whatever you can do to find my wife…”

“We’re going to find out the truth about what happened to your wife,” she promises me. “Hang in there, Mr. Bennett.”

“Nate,” I correct her in a choked voice. I prefer to be called Nate, although I loved the way Addie would say Nathaniel in that adoring tone of hers.

When we hang up, I brush my teeth in the bathroom, humming the words to “All Shook Up” as I always do. I splash some water over my face, then I pull off my undershirt and get into bed. And just as I’m sliding in between the sheets, I hear it.

Someone ringing the doorbell downstairs.

Could it be Detective Sprague? No, unlikely. We hung up not that long ago. It must be somebody else. I glance down at my watch—it’s almost eleven o’clock. Who would be at my door at this hour?

I throw my undershirt back on over my head and then grab my robe for good measure. I pad down the stairs, each step creaking as my bare feet make contact. Our house is so old that practically every tile and floorboard forms a unique sound. Someone walking across our living room could create a symphony.

I hear a sound again. This time, it’s knocking at the door. No, more like


’Tis some visitor, tapping on my chamber door.

If there’s nobody at the door again, I am going to lose my damn mind.

I check the peephole first. My stomach drops when I don’t see anyone standing there. But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It could have been a package delivery.

At eleven o’clock at night on a Saturday.

I crack open the door, my heart thumping painfully in my chest. But it slows slightly when I see the brown Amazon box sitting on my doorstep. It was just a package delivery. Only this and nothing more.

I retrieve the package from my doorstep and carry it over to the coffee table. I have no idea what this is, but I order packages frequently enough. The last item I ordered was a new coffee maker, as the current one has been malfunctioning. It will be nice to be able to drink a decent cup of coffee in my own home again. I rip through the tape on the box and…

It’s not a coffee machine. It’s a pair of women’s shoes.

They are a startling shade of red with long, pointed heels. Eve must have ordered them prior to her death. Of course she did. Eve was always ordering shoes. Unlike the others, though, this pair will be sent right back to Amazon. I start to pull them out of the box, but before I can free them entirely, my blood turns cold. I drop them like they scalded my hand as I realize what I am looking at.

The soles of the shoes are covered in dirt.

Jesus Christ.

I leap off the couch, my whole body shaking. I dart back over to the door and throw it open fast enough that the hinges whine in protest. I stare out at my front yard, narrowing my eyes as I search for any signs of movement. But I see nothing. Not even a squirrel.

Darkness there and nothing more.

“I know you’re out there,” I call out, as loudly as I dare. “I am not

intimidated by this.” Silence.

“Addie?” I say.

I am greeted with a blast of wind that chills me to the bone. I hug my robe around my chest.

“Eve?” I whisper. Again, no answer.

I slam the door closed and lean against it with all my weight. My dead wife is not haunting me from beyond the grave. That is the only thing I know for sure. I have never believed in life after death. When you are dead, you are dead.

Then who left those dirty shoes at my door?

It occurs to me that there is one other person who could have done this. Someone besides Addie or Eve’s mystery lover or the ghost of my dead wife. There is one other person who knows just enough to bury me, and if that person is the one taunting me, I am in deep, deep trouble.

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